Science Fiction Adventures: December 1956

Sunday , 6, June 2021 2 Comments

Science Fiction Adventures was a title used for magazines twice, three times depending on how you count the U.K version. The second title from 1956 to 1958 was a converted detective magazine, Suspect Detective Stories. Suspect lasted for five issues from November 1955 to October 1956. It was edited by Larry T. Shaw and did run fiction by Jerome Bixby, William Tenn, Bryce Walton, Jerry Sohl, Robert Bloch, and Harlan Ellison.

The first issue of Science Fiction Adventures, December 1956 is listed as Vol. 1 No. 6 continuing the numbering from Suspect Detective Stories. The cover is a garish scene by Ed Emsh. The magazine was digest size, cost $.35, and had a total of 130 pages. The cover had “3 Complete New Action Novels” above the magazine logo.

I mentioned Edmond Hamilton’s “The Starcombers” last week as it was reprinted in Great Science Fiction Adventures.

“If any one man can be called the inventor of action-adventure science fiction, that man is Edmond Hamilton. He’s been writing exciting tales of deep space since about the time the first science-fiction magazine appeared, and he gets better at it with every year that passes. We think ‘The Starcombers’ will rank with his ‘Universe Wreckers’ and ‘Star Kings’ as a true classic.”

The is about wanderers from Earth who scavenge items and artifacts from various planets trading along the way. As I wrote, the scenes on the dying planet with a black star reminded me of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land.

Robert Randall was a pseudonym used for Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett together. The blurb for “Secret of the Green Invaders”:

“Centuries of alien conquest had made Earth a slave planet, and only a pitiful handful of men dared dreams of rebellion. But they had a weapon they didn’t even know about!”

This is a very 1950s type of science fiction story that I have run into before. Earth under alien domination with human chaffing under the yoke. Really not much action in this story and it depends on a twist at the end. Not memorable.

“Calvin Knox” was one of the Robert Silverberg’s pseudonyms generally used for second rate markets. The name appeared in Super Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories in the 1950s. “Battle for the Thousand Suns” is bylined by Calvin Knox and David Gordon who was Randall Garrett. This is adventure science fiction on the lines of Edmond Hamilton. The prince in hiding returning to claim his throne from the tyrant. A few changes and this could have been set in Renaissance Italy. It is not coincidence that Robert Silverberg would write non-fiction books on vanished civilizations and well done historicals including Gilgamesh and Lord of Darkness. This is pulp costume drama with some sword play and psi powers thrown in. Great stuff.

“Hadj” by Harlan Ellison is about a diplomatic envoy sent to the Masters of the Universe.” Almost a vignette that depends on a trick ending. Reprinted in Ellison Wonderland.

Something interesting – an ad for subscriptions states “Each issue of Science Fiction Adventures will contain three short novels, each one complete in itself. They’ll be written by great like Edmond Hamilton, Robert Randall, Calvin Knox, David Gordon, Raymond F. Jones, E. E. Smith, Leigh Brackett, Harlan Ellison, Richard Wilson, Frank M. Robinson, Algis Budrys, and others – writers you can depend on for top-notch, action-packed, suspenseful science fiction.”

Richard Wilson was in the sister magazine Infinity Science Fiction but not in Science Fiction Adventures. SFA never did have any fiction from Leigh Brackett, E. E. Smith, Raymond F. Jones, and Frank M. Robinson. There might be a story there.

2 Comments
  • deuce says:

    The Hamilton and Silverberg tales both sound interesting. Back when space opera was worth reading…

    “If any one man can be called the inventor of action-adventure science fiction, that man is Edmond Hamilton.”

    I know Shaw had to sell his authors to the audience, but he seems to be forgetting the TRUE forefathers like Burroughs, Merritt and Leinster.

    Speaking of Merritt…

    “They’ll be written by great like Edmond Hamilton, Robert Randall, Calvin Knox, David Gordon, Raymond F. Jones, E. E. Smith, Leigh Brackett, Harlan Ellison, Richard Wilson, Frank M. Robinson, Algis Budrys, and others…”

    When you plug in the REAL names like Silverberg etc, a lot of those authors were Merritt fans. I’m thinking especially of Smith, Hamilton and Brackett. Silverberg is firmly on record as being a Merritt fan as well. Beyond the wide-scope ‘action-adventure science fiction’ category, I think a case can be made for Merritt being one of the foremost forefathers of Space Opera, despite never having written a space opera tale himself.

  • JohnnyMac says:

    I was interested to see the name of Calvin Knox on the cover. I remembered it from a short story by Avram Davidson “Hark! Was That the Squeal of an Angry Thoat?” It begins:

    “At a time subsequently I was still living back East, we were so many of us the Living Back East, and I was still living on the seventh floor of a seven-floor walk-up in Greenwich Village.”

    Calvin Knox one of the sundry colorful neighbors mentioned and is quoted thus:

    “I have reduced,” C. Knox said, entirely without boastfulness, “the Basic Short Story to its essential salts.”

    You can find this story in “The Avram Davidson Treasury” (1995) a collection of Davidson’s work published as a memorial tribute. The editor was one Robert Silverberg.

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